The Mid-Course Literary Analysis Essay (100 points)
YOUR TASK: Write an essay (4-6 pages, Times New
Roman, 12 font, double spaced) that explores the ideas presented thus far in
the course. You may either write about Zoline’s story alone OR
develop a controlling idea about any two works we have read thus
far (The Time Machine, “Adam and No Eve,” “A Pail of Air,” “The Last
Flower,” “There Will Come Soft Rains,” “The Heat Death of the Universe,” Black
Mirror’s “White Christmas,” “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,”). Please
submit your final essay, double spaced to Turnitin by the due date. Plan
ahead: get yourself to the Writing Center at some stage of your essay for extra
help. Get documentation to submit for extra credit.
Your controlling idea [thesis] should be a specific,
interesting, and an arguable position. Your job is to explore the text/s
and teach your reader what you found. Beyond stating the obvious, your position
should explore why/how the author/s has/have created this work. In other
words, what commentary does the author make about society/values?
You should also find NATURAL WAYS to include the author’s
techniques within your analysis. The obvious ones are characterization and
symbol, but there are many others to consider: shift in tone, juxtaposition,
motif, metaphorical language, allusions, etc. Do not say, “The author uses
characterization to develop theme.” Rather, “Sarah Boyle is characterized as a
misanthropic, obsessive woman experiencing a nervous breakdown because she
forced into the life of domestic servitude….”
Idea Bank for Zoline Only Essay:
Before you read any of the prompts, think about what really struck you.
Consider a theory, question or an idea that you could use to discuss the text.
You may also find a lens (for example, a Freudian reading, a Jungian archetype,
determinism, or any other concept you learned about in another area that you
could use to think about this story…)
- Select one or more of the terms from the pre-reading list
to help you construct a controlling idea. The terms fall under two
categories: specifically cited in the story OR potential lenses for how to
explore the story.
Cited in the story
story is a fugue + how/why
story is a Dada text. + how/why
This is a feminist text + how/why
Emerson’s Transparent Eyeball
how this is an Absurd text (commentary on the human condition) and how this
enhances social commentary (i.e., being forced into a role as housewife). +
Sarah Boyle is modern Kali Goddess of Chaos. + how/why
- Consider a topic and develop a stance:
- This story uses art is used to make social commentary.
What is the social commentary? + how/why
- This story uses the theme of opposing forces/dualities to
develop (fill in an idea). + how/why
- This story uses the theme of [choose one] reproduction /
mass production / replication / cancer / absorption / etc. to reveal
_____. + how/why
- This world is sick and dying because _____. + how/why
- This story’s emphasis on color/art/music shows (insert
theme). + how/why
- Explore patterns / math / number significance. What is
the mathematical truth of this text? + how/why
- Explore one or more other analogy (beyond Entropy/Heat
Death) to explore this text as a metaphysical conceit. What previously
unlikely comparison allows us to gain new insight? + how/why
- Explore how the theme of consumption is used. + how/why
- How / why does Sarah Boyle experience a crisis in
identity? + how/why
- ____ gives life value. + how/why
- Structure. + how/why
- Anti-hero? Modwern Hero? Tragic hero? What is she?
- Critical Lens: Paragraph (insert number) or “a
quote from the story” can be used to analyze the rest story as (what is
being revealed). + how/why
- Other idea? The possibilities are endless. + how/why
Idea Bank for Two or More Works:
- Develop a controlling idea about two works we read.
Consider one or more of the following ideas + how/why:
- Earth Abides
- Perils of Technology
- Paradise, beauty
- Explore how imbalanced societies cannot last. + how/why
or examine how society/civilization is built/maintained + how/why
- Select one passage from one work to use as a base for
analyzing the other/s. + how/why
- Examine the structure of the works. How is the structure
important to understanding the content? + how/why
- Opposing forces reveal ______.+ how/why
- ____ gives life value. The texts force the reader to
contemplate ____. + how/why
- Select an allusion / symbol from each work and explore how
it is important to the work as a whole. + how/why
- Other idea?
For either essay, please work on your formal writing
- All direct quotes are in quotation marks and
cited with a page number. If a quote is five or more lines long, use BLOCK
QUOTING structure. For either type of quoting, use proper MLA
parenthetical citations and punctuation. See “MLA In-Text Citations
(Step-by-Step Guide)” for a video tutorial
on YouTube [URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTaUHS1mnvw]
or use Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL)
[https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/] for all your MLA citation questions.
For parenthetical citations, start here: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/02/)
- Use formal language. For example, use “mother” instead of
- Use the present tense in your writing. Leave the author’s
tense as is in the direct quotes.
- The first time you mention a work, cite the author’s full
name. From thereon, use ONLY the last name. Also, there is no need to
keep telling your reader who wrote what. Once is enough. Same applies to
- Show who said what and often when. Set up the context of
- Assume your reader is aware of the text – no plot summary
is needed; however, you should set up quotes to “refresh” your reader’s
- Always analyze what evidence you present. Don’t
expect your reader to do the analysis. Your analysis should be lengthier
than your evidence.
- Alternate between direct quotes and paraphrases. Use the
author’s or character’s exact words when they are perfect to
support your controlling idea; paraphrase when you can do as well to cover
the material needed to support your controlling idea.
- Develop each section of your responses/essay equally.
- Spell out all numbers 100 or that begin a sentence.
- Avoid generalizations or Captain Obvious statements.
- Do visit the Writing Center for extra credit at any stage
of your writing process.
- Do check that EVERY piece of evidence and analysis leads
back to support your thesis.
- Use the ACTIVE voice rather than PASSIVE voice in your
writing. See Grammar Girl’s Tips
or OWL [https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/539/02/]
- Read your writing aloud! You will catch most of your
troubles this way.
- Do use specific word choices. Vary your vocabulary.
Never take reading short cuts such as Sparknotes or Wikipedia,
etc. What’s the point?
Never, ever plagiarize. Whether it be a phrase, an idea,
or analysis from any uncited source other than yourself, it is plagiarism.
Plagiarism is the intentional or unintentional use of someone else’s ideas and
presenting them as your own. Even the smallest infraction will result in
termination of your project. Always cite any words or ideas from anywhere other
than your own mind. See above MLA citing.
Do not plot summarize. Select your evidence deliberately.
Do not be sloppy. This is not a text, and you should not rush.
Even a paper that has sound ideas but is sloppy cannot receive higher than a B.
Do not wait until the last minute to complete your reading or
Do not use “I” or “you” in your writing.
- Do not use contractions!
“Doesn’t” should be “does not,” for example.